Cardiff 1 - 0 Huddersfield. Comment

Last updated : 10 March 2024 By Paul Evans

After a Tuesday night which saw good results for many of the struggling sides, there might have been some who were getting concerned about Cardiff City needing more than the traditional safety mark of fifty points to stay up.


I wasn’t too bothered about that, twenty four hours ago we needed a win tonight to reach the fifty point mark and now we’ve done it with a trademark second half of 23/24 1-0 win over Huddersfield to record a second consecutive victory at Cardiff City Stadium.

Huddersfield therefore remain one of three teams on thirty eight points with only Rotherham, whose relegation may well be confirmed before March finishes, below them. It really is bonkers at the bottom of the table with the seven clubs above Rotherham covered by two points, but with us now ten points clear of Plymouth, Blackburn and Millwall at the top of that mini league, I’d say we’re safe now and, in fact, an unlikely win over second placed Ipswich on Saturday would see Play Off talk reignited – something that I thought was definitely over for the season.

The reason I’m so confident that relegation talk can be shelved is that Birmingham, who have a game in hand on the rest, apart, those bottom eight clubs are now down to just ten matches left to play.

So, Sheffield Wednesday, Stoke and Huddersfield, the three teams on thirty eight points need to win four out of the last ten matches just to catch us. That’s far from impossible you might say, especially for Wednesday who are on a good run currently, but the thing is there are so many sides down there that it becomes almost impossible for them all to reach fifty points. It also shouldn’t be forgotten that teams like Swansea and Bristol City are seven and six points respectively adrift of us – there are going to be too many games where sides at the bottom are facing each other and one or both of them are going to be dropping points for City to concern themselves about the drop now.

Now, I should say here that around this time in the season fifteen years ago, I can remember writing a message board post after a 2-1 win over Watford at Ninian Park gained thanks to a Ross McCormack penalty in something like the ninety sixth minute saying that we were absolute certs to make the Play Offs. About six weeks later, I was left with egg on my face as the end of a season from hell prompted by that notorious 6-0 defeat by Preston saw us completely fall apart and let the Lancashire club pip us by virtue of goals scored after we finished level on points and goal difference with them.

In 08/09 we blew up with four games to go, we’d have to do it with ten games to go this time for relegation to become an issue. Our form through late December, January and February  was wretched, but we still gained three wins from the thirteen games played between the 1-0 win against Millwall and our victory over Stoke – for us to finish in the bottom three now would need a run of results far, far worse than what we’ve just been through.

Another thing to remember is that if we go into our last match needing to win (it’s not going to happen!) it’s against Rotherham, the team every side in the division would love to be facing if they had to get three points from their forty sixth match.

As for tonight’s game, a score of 1-0 in a match between two low scoring teams over reliant on set pieces for their goals, offers a broad hint as to what sort of encounter it was. It was of course a third consecutive win for City and they have all been pretty similar in character with us spending long spells defending as we preserved our one goal leads.

For me, there was a bit more goalmouth action tonight than there was at Ashton Gate on Saturday, but not much more. The 2-1 home win over Stoke was the best of the three in terms of which game was the most watchable, but, rather like tonight, we spent most of the second half on the back foot.

While I thought we just about deserved the win at Bristol, Stoke were hard done by I feel and maybe Huddersfield will believe they were worth at least a point after a second half where they pushed forward repeatedly, but they never looked convincing in front of goal and they only had one real chance, which Danny Ward knocked wide from about four yards out inside the last five minutes.

Huddersfield could legitimately claim that it was hardly as if we were creating chances galore mind. In terms of creativity, it was what you normally get under this manager lately – two dangerous attacks before half time and a very presentable chance missed plus a few shots of varied quality from outside the penalty area in the second half which gave Lee Nicholls in the Huddersfield goal little to do.

City with Famala Diedhiou in for the injured Kion Etete and Ryan Wintle and Karlan Grant replacing Rubin Colwill and Manolis Siopis threatened first as Grant’s well struck shot following good play by Perry Ng brought what I suppose was the save of the game from Nicholls (it was hardly as if there was much competition for that award!).

Up the other end, Sorba Thomas whose dead ball crossing represented the visitors’ most likely scoring route bent in a wicked free kick which got a slight touch off Dimitrios Goutas and flashed about a yard wide and there was a header by left back Brodie Spencer which Ethan Horvarth saved easily.

The goal when it came was a double surprise, first because someone had scored in a game which had looked like it could be panning out as a goalless draw in the manner of the grim encounter with Blackburn a fortnight ago during the first half an hour and second because it was such a good goal.

City have been the Kings of the dead ball goal this season, but this was something completely out of character as the team that creates the least chances from open play in the division scored a lovely goal.

It all started on the left with Grant feeding Wintle who hit a fine cross field pass to Josh Bowler whose excellent first touch took him into space and his low cross was adroitly turned past Nicholls from ten yards out by Diedhiou.

Up until then, the Senegalese striker had been having a dismal time of it as the ball kept on bouncing off him as he invariably presented possession back to Huddersfield, but having finally been given a chance to show his finishing ability in his seventh appearance for us, Diedhiou’s neatly taken goal was a cut above what we’ve become used to this season.

After that, Diedhiou became more confident and his all round play improved until he was taken off for Yakou Meite for the last quarter of the game. Meite sent a header from a Joe Ralls corner, which he should have done better with, wide and another sub Rubin Colwill had a couple of shots from distance, one of which didn’t miss by too much and the other brought about a pretty comfortable save for Nicholls. Another sub, Siopis, then rather scuffed his twenty yarder a couple of yards wide.

As far as Huddersfield were concerned Horvarth dived to gather a Delano Burgzorg effort – it was a routine save, but it represented the American’s most difficult one of the night which tends to show that, for all of their attacking intent in the second half, the visitors were largely kept quiet by a defence which has now conceded just one goal in their last four games.

Ward’s miss was the one big chance the visitors had and you had to admire the way City saw out the last six minutes of added time with Colwill and two more subs in Callum O’Dowda and Ollie Tanner to the fore.

Yet again, it wasn’t pretty from City and it’s concerning that we only seem to be able to win one way, but as someone who wondered at one time whether we would see another home win after Christmas, it is a pleasure to see us looking a little more like the team that won five out of its first seven home games.

There was a double header featuring the under 18s and under 21s yesterday which rather confirmed why these sides do not tend to play on the same day. With several important members of the Academy team needed by the under 21s, it was a depleted under 18 side that travelled to Barnsley for an 11 o clock kick off and their hopes of a Play Off spot predictably suffered a jolt as they went down by 3-1 with Ronan Kpakio getting our second half goal. As an aside, it was good to see Josh Beecher named as one of the subs as he returns after what I presume was an injury which has seemingly prevented him from playing since around the time he made his first team debut in the League Cup defeat at Blackburn back in October..

As far as the under 21s were concerned, I always try to not be too critical of our age group sides, but their second half fade out against Ipswich at Leckwith yesterday lunchtime was shocking. Credit has to go to Ipswich for showing themselves to be a much better side than they looked in a first half which City dominated and deserved to be further ahead than the single goal lead given them by Joel Colwill’s neat tenth minute goal, but City were woeful after the break.

Ipswich scored twice in the opening three minutes of the second half and never lost control as they hit the woodwork twice before clinching the win with a third goal late on – the only goal attempt City could come up with in response was a shot from Colwill in the dying moments that the Ipswich keeper saved easily.